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Dynamic Roman Marble Helmeted Bust of 
Minerva (Athena)

Dynamic Roman Marble Helmeted Bust of Minerva (Athena)

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Roman: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1283823
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This visually appealing piece is a Roman marble of the goddess Minerva, and dates circa 2nd-3rd century A.D. This piece is approximately 8.75 inches high, by 5 inches wide. This piece is a helmeted bust of the Roman goddess Minerva, who also doubled as the Greek goddess Athena. This piece shows Minerva with finely carved hair that is seen under the edges of the Corinthian type helmet, and is a portrait of a young woman that conveys the eternal beauty of the goddess. She is also seen with a serene expression, and her rounded chin also conveys a goddess that is perceived as a powerful woman. The helmet also has a raised crest, and has an inset square dowel joint on each side that probably supported a running Pegasus that was mounted on each side of the helmet. In addition, this piece is carved in the round, and the helmet design is seen on the back side of the bust as well. The face is completely intact, with no major breaks, and the carving of the eyes, nose, and the delicate mouth is extremely detailed. The eyes also have center drilled dots with a carved circular iris, which give this piece a very dynamic "alive" look, and the treatment of the eyes in this fashion is typical for Roman portraiture especially during the Antonine Period, circa 2nd century A.D. This piece also has a nice light gray patina, with heavier dark gray mineral deposits seen at the back of the bust. This piece is also analogous in design to the earlier Greek Athenian coinage, circa 5th century B.C., which shows on the obverse a helmeted Athena in profile wearing a Corinthian type helmet, with a helmet crest and dotted necklace. This piece also follows the design of the Greek gold coinage of Alexander the Great, who placed a helmeted bust of Athena on the obverse of his gold staters, circa late 4th century B.C. This piece is scarce to rare on the market, as it likely completed a full size standing and draped statue of the goddess. The portrait type of this piece was derived from an earlier Greek prototype, which is thought to be a large full standing bronze cult statue that is known as the "Athena Sunias", which was displayed in a temple dedicated to Athena at Cape Sounion. (See G. Despinis, "Athena Sunias-Eine Vermutung", Archaologischer Anzeiger, 1999, pp. 173-181.) An analogous example without the helmet crest and dotted necklace, and of nearly the same size was offered by Halan J. Berk of Chicago, Ill. in "Ancient Art", 1987, no. 45. (See attached photo.) The Berk example was also mounted on a custom display stand, as the piece offered here, with a center pin running up into the lower neck where the break occurred. The piece offered here has a great deal of eye appeal, as the facial design of this piece, especially with the treatment of the eyes and delicate mouth, provide this piece with a very dynamic "alive" and "penetrating" look. Ex: Private New York collection. Ex: Phoenix Ancient Art, Geneva and New York, circa 2000-2014, Inv.# P33-059-012614b. I certify that this piece is authentic as to date, culture, and condition: